food pot kitchen cooking
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I’ve started a new WIP, which is a little like falling in love all over again. New plot lines and characters make for new discoveries. All a little exciting; all a little frightening.

Some of those new discoveries come from background research. Many others come from my own memories resurfaced.

As lots of writers will tell you, if I’m talking about it, I’m not writing it. So, I won’t go into great detail. But I was inspired by Lorna at Gin & Lemonade to post on a fall food memory. Think: food memory; think: taste. Right? The first thing I thought was sound.

See, one of my most potent fall food memories is the sound of my mom stirring soup on the stove top as I woke from a dead sleep after some kind of dental procedure, I think it was. The backstory is blurry, but the sound of the steel spoon on a steel pot forever rings in my memory. It’s the sound of care and comfort, warmth and frugality (no doubt there were dried beans aplenty in that soup.)

But back to my WIP and one of my main characters. An eighteen year old girl on the cusp of entering college–and life, really–is losing her hearing.

Imagine losing one of your precious senses.

I’ve been doing a lot of that lately, pondering what sounds I could let go and lose forever. For one, I could stand to forget my yelling-at-my-kids chest voice–one I didn’t even know I had before parenthood. (Lots of interesting discussion on this topic in fiction and nonfiction lately, from Lauren Groff’s story to Lydia Kiesling’s essay.)

Some sounds I couldn’t stand to lose: the sounds of a quiet house; my kids’ voices; and my mom stirring a pot of soup as I awake from a silent sleep.

There is no true silence; I’ve learned that much about hearing loss.

There’s a woman in town here who has lost her sense of smell, and with it, her sense of taste. I feel a little bit like that. I try to remember what my mom’s soup that long-ago evening might have smelled or tasted like, but I can’t–at least not yet.

I regret that I don’t have my mom’s recorded voice, with the nasally accent she passed down to me–along with her veiny hands, her love of puns, and the cookbook of family recipes she made, one for each of us kids, when she was sick.

That soup recipe is likely in there; without knowing it, I may make it for my family this fall.

What are your favorite foods of fall? What foods take you back to your native place?

My native Rust Belt has some distinctive Tastes of Home, if you’d like to explore!

Want more Rust Belt fun. Check out my FB page.

Interested in trying your hand at food-writing? Lorna at Gin & Lemonade found these helpful: for-real from Writer’s Digest and for-funny from the New Yorker.

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21 thoughts on “Sounds of silence; tastes long gone

  1. That one will keep me up at night, Penny. A terrifying thought, not being able to smell smoke. That’s a treasure trove of an image too: all the signaling and signs in our language about smoke–“where there’s smoke…” “smoke signals,” etc. To be left out of all that–scary. Thanks for checking out the post!

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  2. Smells are excellent memory triggers. Sounds don’t really do it for me. I wonder, if I went deaf, would the tinnitus go away, too? Or would I be condemned to hear nothing BUT those noises the rest of my life. Just shoot me!

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    1. Yes, there are definitely smells that take my somewhere long ago. Good question about the tinnitus–haven’t gotten that far in my research! I did learn something interesting (on NPR, of course, where all the interesting stuff is): that sustained sounds are worse for our ears than brief loud ones. So, classical musicians, who play a few times a week and practice daily endure more hearing loss on average than rock musicians, who only play out once or twice a week. My dad has only one good ear left–not a musician, but worked on an aircraft carrier in the Navy–so I can sorta understand how difficult it can be to be hard of hearing, but not deaf. Thanks for checking out my post!

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  3. Ah, this new project sounds challenging. Trying to imagine the feelings your character would experience in facing such a situation, especially at such a vulnerable time of life. Losing one of your senses, has to feel like a partial death. Best of luck to you and I hope you keep us posted on the progress!

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    1. Thanks, Meg, and I appreciate you stopping by! I think I’ll need the luck–and a good bit of time. Not sure where the latter’s going to come from! Plus–and I thought of you here with your WWI research–I’m researching Finland’s Winter War. If this becomes a book, it’s going to be borne of a mishmash of things I’m just itching to know more about. Research is not my forte though, so we’ll see!

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      1. That sounds like great fun – finding a way to tie all those threads together! It’s hard to be interested in a whole lot of different things. You’ll make it work. When something interests you, it feeds the creative fire!

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    1. Oh yes, thank you. Pumpkin–real pumpkin. Not some fake pumpkin spice flavoring. My mom’s pumpkin pie recipe uses sweetened condensed milk, which makes for a darker, caramel-ly filling. Now I’m hankering for pumpkin pie! Thanks for checking out my post!

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  4. Some lovely, comforting memories Rebecca. I like the sound of a quiet house too. One of my autumn/winter comfort foods that takes me back home is Pork Hocks with Sauerkraut – the sweet, tenderness of the pork with the sourness of the sauerkraut – I just love it!

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  5. I really enjoyed reading this post — you have a lovely evocative style. I’ve never really thought much about foods and SOUNDS (my first thought, when linking the two, is of awful chewing noises, but now that I think further, I can definitely do better than that…!).

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